Roger Jones our Michelin star chef and ambassador to The Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Awards headed over to look at some wine artists at The Saatchi Gallery where Enotria&Coe held its annual portfolio tasting. For Jones it was a chance to taste some new additions to the range plus catch up with some old faces. In both cases the quality of the wines and spirits was of the very highest class.
Hosted at the roomy, high-ceilinged Saatchi Gallery, Enotria&Coe certainly lived up to their title Enotria & Coe Showcase 2018; it definitely achieved this, not only with its selection of wines but also Showcasing its impressive portfolio of gins, including a ‘gin garden’ that Percy Thrower would have been proud of!
In a testament to the vision of Jon Pepper MW, Enotria&Coe’s buying, marketing and retail director, Trimbach was the first stand that you came upon (Gallery 1, Table 1) at the tasting. Pepper had pointed out in his introduction to the tasting, and also had ‘laid out his stall’ to The Buyer here, that buyers were looking for quality and value this year and with Trimbach, this historic 13-generation Alsace establishment, you had this strategy epitomised in their inspirational wines.
It was a bit like “here we are, start off with exactly the style and quality we want you to focus on today,” so bravo for putting Trimbach at the start of an inspired voyage around your portfolio.
Jean Trimbach’s son Julien did a superb job promoting this gem of a winery. Both the Riesling 2015 and Riesling Reserve 2015 highlight what exceptional quality Alsace can provide and show a style of Riesling that is perfect for food.
A wine to look out for is the Trimbach Selection De Vielles Vignes 2014 (Trade Price ex Vat £20.34), this had an amazing purity and precision, with a complexity that had stone fruit hidden in the background. The Trimbach Riesling Cuvee Frederic Emile 2008 £35.02 cannot replace the awe-inspiring Clos St Hune but at this price must be one of the best bargains for elite wines on the market and a great wine to showcase by the glass.
Mas Janeil is under the Francois Lurton empire, and Lurton purchased this estate in Southern France in 2008, having rented the property for over a decade. The Mas Janeil Blanc – Le Traou de l’Ouille 2015 at £15.61 offers a vibrant exciting wine that delivers the full monty. It has stone fruit and roasted spice in abundance, textured and layered and a racy citrus finish. Of course with time it will tone down and evolve with more complexity but this white wine with a blend of Grenache Blanc, Grenache Gris and Macaque (from fermented concrete eggs) offers a perfect dining companion.
Ramon Bilbao’s outshoot in Galicia; Mar de Frades produces quite exquisite Albarino wines (in distinct blue designer bottles) including the first ever sparkling Albarino Mar de Frades Albariño Brut NV, together with Mar de Frades Albariño 2017 and the barrel-aged Mar de Frades Finca Valiñas Albariño 2014. Here again we see wines that are distinct enough to entice the client to try grapes away from their normal diet.
Having raved about Trimbach, I would highlight the Hand Picked Gewurztraminer 2015 (£12.17) from Australia’s Skillogalee, as one of the finest and most approachable Gewurztraminers I have encountered (outside aged Grand Cru Alsace) with its gentle fruity floral perfume on the nose, followed by a masterly textured palate that has beautiful fruit that dances all over it and is great value.
I have visited Skillogalee a few times and always get pleasure in talking to the Palmers and their story of upping sticks and moving across the world to set up this winery. But, more importantly, they produce great wines, no more so than their restrained clean Skillogalee Basket Pressed Shiraz 2014 (£14.00). My tasting notes were “purity, pretty, clean, focused, perfect tiny clusters of berries,” an easy drinking Shiraz that highlights how Clare Valley can produce elegant Shiraz.
Ben Glaetzer continues to fly the flag for Barossa (Glaetzer Wines) but you must not forget his Heartland Wines in Langhorne Creek, with Heartland Shiraz 2014 (£10.45) a real bargain and Heartland Director’s Cut Shiraz 2014 (£17.81) a real class act. Both these are drinking well now, but from experience they become the wines of dreams with a few more years of age.
Henschke continues to upkeep its class and both Henschke Johann’s Garden GSM 2015 and Henschke Cyril Cabernet 2012 highlighted the reason of its status.
Kooyong has a large range of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, the two on show highlighted the quality and value that you can still get in The Mornington Peninsula, which has in recent years become a bit of a boutique region with prices shooting up. The Kooyong Clonale Chardonnay 2016 £16.38 has that classic Mornington freshness, citrus lime on the nose, quartz and mineral on the palate, almonds and peaches and a creamy texture brightened by a lovely acidity at the end. Likewise the Kooyong Massale Pinot Noir 2016 £16.38, is a lovely expression of Pinot Noir, (forest floor meets wild berries) there is a touch of meaty gamey flavours on first hit, but then this is coated with sour cherries and luscious clean berries.
Enotria&Coe must be delighted to have added McWilliam’s into its portfolio, and it was a delight to meet Scott McWilliam. His Tumarumba Chardonnay 2014 £30.98 highlights not only the class that Chardonnay from Tumbarumba produces, but is a classic world class Chardonnay that is elegant, clean and pure on the palate, fresh and vibrant and entices you back for another swill. Its Mount Pleasant winery in the Hunter Valley showcases Semillon and Shiraz. The Mount Pleasant Cellar Aged Elizabeth Semillon 2007 £13.52 its current release is not only a wonderful wine drinking superbly but offers a real bargain for a wine over a decade old. A level up in price and quality is the sublime Mount Pleasant Lovedale Semillon 2011 £28.82, which has not been aged for as long, but I suggest one should buy and hide them away for some time. These wines spend no time in oak but their quality depth and intensity of flavour is amazing.
The Mount Pleasant Philip Shiraz 2014 £10.90 is another bargain, with its bright, clean, Rhone-style flavours whilst the Mount Pleasant Maurice O’Shea Shiraz 2014 is a superb wine but definitely needs time. I was lucky enough to try the 1944 recently which is in perfect drinking condition.
Over in South Africa, Thomas Webb showcased Thelema’s ability to age with two excellent Cabernet Sauvignons, one from 1991 and one from 2014. Thelema also owns substantial land in Elgin, where its Sutherland Estate is based, the wines from here (with the glut of water) offer very clean focused wines especially the Chardonnay.
Now over to California with Orin Swift. David Swift Phinney started his journey back in 1995 whilst on a university study trip to Florence, where he fell in love with wine, returning to California to finish his degree and then to set up his own wine venture for which he now has an avid cult following.
However, unlike most Californian cult wines, there are many wines in his portfolio that are pleasing to the wallet. I think this may stem from his brief work he did for Robert Mondavi Winery as a temporary harvest hand, where he realised if he had to work that hard he should set his own company up and not work for a conglomerate and, in so doing, share his wines more freely.
There were many highlights on his stand, and many more under the counter, and it deserves a full article rather than a brief note here (one coming! – Ed).
Enotria’s expansive Sparkling Gallery was awash with superstars and small boutique producers each with their own distinct style and price.
I have followed Hattingley from the start and these wines continue to excel, it was excellent to try the Hattingley Demi Sec 2013 £28.03 a more luscious fruit-driven sparkling than Nyetimber’s Demi Sec, but still a fabulous wine perfect for salty blue cheese or tarte tatin.
The Hattingley Classic Reserve NV £24.05 is, as it says, a “Classic” and a beautiful wine, whilst the ‘limited release’ Hattingley Kings Cuvee 2013 £58.80 is not so limited with this vintage, butt is still worth grabbing some bottles before it sells out, and is up there with the very best. The wine has depth and structure but what hit me was the purity and perfection, the balance of citrus to the rich palate, to the spices, which helps evolve it into a rather special bubble.
Ferrari is also rather special, and has a large range of classic ‘Metodo Classico” style wines made in Trentino in Northern Italy where is was founded in 1902 and based on the conception that Giulio Ferrari knew that Trentino would produce world class Chardonnay for the best sparkling wine. Winning award after award these are not only the finest sparkling wines from Italy, but sit there as great examples on the world stage. My pick of many was the Perle 2010 £25.05, although there were many gems on display.
Champagne Alfred Gratein is another new entry for Enotria, and what a star, I have known and drunk Alfred Gratein since the 1980s, and have always been blown away by the quality of the Alfred Gratein Brut Classique NV £31.88.
This is a textured, stunning wine that has the depth of Krug but the freshness of DP. One of few champagnes (besides Krug) that is fermented in oak, giving a luxurious depth, stone fruit, creamy, honey, fresh toasted brioche and that incredible crisp taught acidity at the end.
What a way to end an amazing tasting. Jon and your team…chapeaux!